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Colonial Cases

Newspaper commentary and minor cases, Palestine, 1931

The Palestine Bulletin, 1 January 1931

   Coming into force to-day, the District Court Rules of Court 1930 and Magistrates'' Courts Rules were published yesterday as a Gazette Extraordinary.


The Palestine Bulletin, 1 January 1931


    Mr. Justice De Freitas who had the distinction - if distinction it be - of hearing the last riot case and who very reasonably remarked that the time had come for us to forget August 1929, was very popular with Bench and Bar when he was in Jerusalem.  On his appointment to Haifa, ...


The Palestine Bulletin, 2 January 1931


   The High Court on Monday granted an order nisi, calling on the Deputy District Commissioner to show case why he, as Chairman of the Town Planning Commission, should not cancel orders given by him that the balcony and staircase in the house of Abraham Elk should be demolished.

   It was shewn to the Court that the former owner of the house, Rikva Firman, had built stairs and balcony in question, disregarding the terms of the permit.  The Municipality had then brought a case before the Municipal Magistrate who had ordered that the balcony and stairs be taken down.  Abraham Elk, it was argued, had bought the house without knowledge of the judgment of the Court.

   Mt. Olshan, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, claimed that the law clearly reads: "a person who built," and Mr. Elk had neither built the balcony and staircase, not had he any knowledge that that part of the house was under dispute.

   Counsel for the petitioner further pleaded that according to the law, the judgment must be executed through the Execution office.  Had the Chief Officer refused to carry out the order, the Deputy District Commissioner would gave had to take the matter before the Court.  "Instead," Mr. Olshan continued, "my client has had to appear here."  The High Court then granted the order nisi.


The Palestine Bulletin, 4 January 1931


   I see that Mr. Mani, the lawyer, has asked to be freed of the privilege of appearing before the Sharia courts.  There was a time when all questions of personal status, no matter what the religion of the applicant, came before the Sharia Court, just as in England cases of wills and divorce came before the ecclesiastical courts.  Now, however, that the Rabbinical courts function, Jews seldom if ever appear before Moslem religious courts.  On the one hand no Arab would appear by a Jewish lawyer before the Kadi in the Sharia Courts.  If, as very rarely happens, a Jewish lawyer has to appear before the Kadi that dignitary does not stop to ask whether he has license.  It will be remembered that the ordinance allowing woman to practise at the Bar of Palestine definitely excluded them from Moslem religious courts.  A woman barrister can appear before the Rabbinical Curtsy.   QUIDNUNC.


The Palestine Bulletin, 4 January 1931


    Tel Aviv. - The charge against the Lieber Chocolate Company brought by the Nestle Company that Lieber had imitated their chocolate boxes thereby deceiving the public was heard before the Magistrate's court on January 1st.  The Court ordered that the Lieber Company pay a fine of L. 10 and that all the boxes be destroyed.


The Palestine Bulletin, 16 January 1931



Question of Admissibility of Evidence.

   Arising out of the evidence given yesterday writes our Haifa correspondent, the question of the admissibility of evidence has been raised.

   When the witness Hassan Boulois referred to the fact that he had heard Rashid El Haj Ibrahim telling a group of Moslems (among whom the accused persons were present) in the cemetery on the morning of the event, "Kill any Christian who comes in and I am responsible for it," the advocate objected to the admission of this evidence on the ground that it proved premeditation and implicated persons who are not now standing their trial.  It w as argued by the Prosecution that the evidence was admissible and relevant because it tended to prove the existence of a previous agreement among the accused persons to commit murder and the murderous state of mind of the accused when the quarrel broke out.

English Judge Dissents.

   The majority of the Court, namely Judges Ali Hasna and Asaisd Tukan, Mr. Justice De Freitas dissenting, ruled out the evidence on the ground that the Prosecution was not entitled to adduce evidence to establish an offence with which the accused were not being charged.

The Palestine Bulletin, 20 January 1931



... "The evidence of the Muslim detective Ramadan Aidi is a pack of patent lies." [See Palestine Bulletin, 25 January 1931, for a more detailed report.]


The Palestine Bulletin, 21 January 1931


   The French Mandatory of Syria has decided to exclude the subjects of Ibn Saud from the privilege of a trial before European Courts, and to confine this privilege in future to the nationals of countries which enjoyed capitulation rights under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, when Syria formed part of Turkey.  The Hedjaz and Nejd nationals have hitherto been accorded special rights above the Arabs of the neighbouring countries.  ...


The Palestine Bulletin, 22 January 1931


   Hamdah bint Khalil, a widow, 40 years of age, of Jericho, was sent to the Criminal Assize Court on a charge of infanticide.  The woman is alleged to have buried her baby alive.  She was afraid of being discovered with the child, and had not the heart to kill it.  According to the Doctor, the child was still alive when it had been buried.  Hamdah states that she buried it because it was dead.


The Palestine Bulletin, 28 January 1931



   The High Court dismissed the application for an Order Nisi, against the Chief Execution Officer, Jerusalem, to show cause why he should not stay the execution of an order given by the Municipality of Jerusalem.

   Ben Aron, an advocate of Jerusalem, refused to pay his rates on the ground that since the Municipality has no Jewish members, the levying of rates is illegal.  Mr. Ben Aron further argued that the Municipality cannot recover payment through the Execution Office.

   The Court dismissed the application on the ground that there is no law which lays it down that there must be members of any particular creed on the municipality, all that is required is a quorum but not that three creeds should be represented on the Univocal Council.  The Court found that in 1327 A.H. there was an amendment which allowed the Municipality to collect payment through the Execution Office.


The Palestine Bulletin, 13 February 1931


   The advocate, Mr. Ben Meir, built two rooms on the roof of his house at Tel-Aviv.  He had failed to obtain permission to erect these new rooms.  Brought before the magistrate, he was ordered to pay L.P. 10 and his architect was ordered to pay L.P. 6.

   But this judgment pleased neither the police who prosecuted nor the lawyer who defended.  The police wanted the rooms knocked down.  Both appealed to the District Court.  The District Court sent the case back to the Magistrate's Court on the question whether, had permission to put up the two rooms been asked for, it would have been granted.

   The Magistrate yesterday made an order that Mr. Ben Meir knock down the two rooms within six weeks unless, before the expiry of that time, he obtained permission for the erection of the building from the proper authorities.


The Palestine Bulletin, 17 February 1931


   Is a ticket for the theatre which costs 49 mils and on which you pay an extra mil for the J.N.F., a 50 mil ticket?  If so, it it necessary to put a stamp on?  And of there is no stamp, will you be fined?

   These questions were raised and answered in the Court of Appeal of Jerusalem at the end of last week.  The Matate has been in the habit of levying a mil for the J.N.F. on its 49 mils tickets and has failed to pay the stamp duty to the Government necessary on a 5 piaster ticket.

   In Jaffa the Company was fined L.P. 11.  On appeal the fine was reduced to L.P. 10.  Mr. Dickstein arguing for the Matate said that the mil was a voluntary offering and by no means compulsory.  On the other hand the police, for whom Mr. Kantrovitch appeared, brought evidence to shew that when a certain person tried to procure a ticket for b49 mils he had failed.


The Palestine Bulletin, 23 February 1931


   The danger for criminals which lurks behind appeal was illustrated on Jerusalem on Saturday when four persons who had been found guilty of attacking a police patrol and who had been sentenced to terms of imprisonment varying from 3 to 5 years, were all of them, on appeal, sentenced to 7 years' imprisonment.

   The case arose out of events which followed immediately after the riots.  The prisoners Achmet Khalil Talfish, Ibrahim Moihammed Yacob, Ali Hassan Elias Anu Zenab and Achmet Haj Ismael Abu Zeyt of Eyn Zeytoun, were found guilt of going about armed and spreading terror among the villagers near Safed and in the Acre sub-district.  Their most daring feat was when they disarmed a police patrol.  They took away their arms and ammunition, stole some of their property and injured one of their horses.

   All except the third prisoner pleaded not guilty and were sentenced each to 5 years imprisonment.  Abu Zenab pleaded guilty and he was sentenced to three years hard labour. 

   The prisoners appealed against sentence on the ground that it was too severe.  The Court of Appeal held that the judgment erred on the side of leniency and accordingly increased the sentences, as already stated, to terms of 7 years.  Abu Zanab's sentence, however, will run from the date of conviction.  The terms of the other three will run from Saturday.


The Palestine Bulletin, 18 March 1931


   A case involving important legal points was again raised yesterday before the Supreme Court in Jerusalem when the appeal of Abdullah Hussein and others v. Rivka Aaronson and others was dismissed.

   The Court: The chief Justice, Mr. Justice Jarallah and Mr.  Justine Khalil.

   For the Appellant: Dr. B. Joseph.  For the Respondent: Abcarius Bey.

   The Respondent bought, in 1921, 240 dunams of land from a registered owner.  Seven years later certain persons came from abroad and claimed that they were heirs of the previous owner and that they alone were entitled to sell.

   These persons brought a claim before the Land Court at Haifa, claiming cancellation of the sale.  The Court in Haifa held that the respondents were bona fide purchasers for value and dismissed the claim.

   When the Appeal was brought before yesterday, arguments of Counsel for both sided were heard and, as stated, was dismissed with costs.


The Palestine Bulletin, 19 March 1931


   An interesting point of law was raised in the High Court, Jerusalem, yesterday which concerned a land dispute which has been before the courts for 16 years.

   The Court: The Chief Justine, Mr. Jardallah and Mr. Justice Khaldi.  Mr. David Moyal appeared for the plaintiff.  Mr. Ragheb Imam appeared for the defendant.

   Before the war, the plaintiff brought an action in the Lands Court, Jaffa.  The defendant did not appear and judgment was given for the plaintiff.  Later the defendant brought an action, asking for a reversal of the judgment given in his absence, and this time the plaintiff did not appear.  The original judgment was accordingly reversed.

   In 1928 the plaintiff again came to the Court and asked that the original judgment in his favour be restored or that the case be reheard.  The Lands Court in Jaffa refused to upset the pre-war judgment.  It was from this judgment that the plaintiff yesterday appealed.  Judgment is reserved.


The Palestine Bulletin, 11 May 1932


Claim To Land In Hedera.

   An interesting case, that had its beginnings during the Czarist regime, has been brought before the Land Court at Hedera.  Messrs. Richardson, Turtledove, and Co., of Jaffa, and Dr. Eliash of Jerusalem appear on behalf of the hrirs of Avram Raphael Gotz, who claim ownership of 200 dunams of orange groves and land in Hedera.  Mr. Horowitz and Dr. Victor Grunwald are the lawyers for the Planters' League, the respondent company.

   The late Mr. Gotz was the owner of the famous Wissotzky Tea Company and had, in addition varied interests outside. When the Russian Revolution broke out he escaped to the Ukraine where he died in 1920.  All his personal papers were lost but his will provided that certain properties in Hedera were to go to his son.  Mr. Gotz was in Palestine at least once before the war.

   The right is being claimed to investigate the company's books but the District Court ruled that the claimants must first produce evidence of ownership.  It has now decided that investigation of the books may be made.


The Palestine Bulletin, 12 May 1931


English Words As Interpreted In Palestine.

   The High Court of Justice, composed of the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Khaldi, gave yesterday an important decision affecting land-planning in general and the meaning of the English word "terrace" in particular.

   This was a case brought by a Jew against a Moslem asking the High Court to set aside a licence issued by the Musicality of Jerusalem to the Moslem for the erection of a shop on the very boundary of the Jew's land, contrary to the provisions of the Town Planning Scheme which required a space to be left of at least 3 metres between a man's building and his own boundary.  The Court held that some years ago, prior to the issue of the Town Planning Scheme, the Jew was also allowed to build on his boundary, and although the Jew did not in fact so build, but subsequently obtained the approval of the Municipality to a different plan under which he moved his building two metres away from his boundary, yet his building is to be considered as if it stood where it was originally permitted to stand.  Furthermore, the Court held that since the Town Planning Scheme allows "terraces of not more than twelve houses" therefore the Jew's property and the Moslem's shop are to be considered as such a terrace.  The original order of the Court to stay the building permit was therefore discharged, and the building of the shop allowed.

   The importance of the judgment lies, of course, in the interpretation of the word "terrace", which has in England the meaning of a chain or row of houses, built across the entire width of the plot, with gardens or open spaces at the back, and a setback in front also occupied by a garden or terraced entrance.  In Palestine the same word has now been authoritatively interpreted to include a shop bruit on the street and next to a property occupied by a dwelling house, and owners of property in Palestine ought to take due not of this interpretation.



The Palestine Bulletin, 19 June 1931

Claim of L.P. 25,000 Against Palestine Government.

Rights In The Dead Sea.

   A case which has been pending for five years was heard on Wednesday in Jerusalem.  It is a claim of L.P. 25,000 against the Palestine Government made by Ibrahim Hazboun, of Bethlehem.  The Government, he claims, has not carried out contracts made with the Plaintiff in connection with a Dead Sea Concession.

   The Court was composed of Mr. Justice Plunkett and Judge Valero.  Mr. Anastas Hanania appeared for the plaintiff; Mr. Eliot and Mr. Kantrovitch appeared for the Attorney General.

No Contracts Filed.

   Mr. Kantrovitch raised a preliminary objection to the claim.  According to the code of Civil Procedure, all contracts and documents should be exhibited in the file.  In this case no contract was on the file and the claim was not clearly defined.  A reply was written by the Attorney General to the plaintiff in 1926 raising the same point.

   Mr. Anastas replied that the case had been pending for five years and the contracts had been withdrawn from the file, because the plaintiff was afraid that they might be lost.

   The Court adjourned the case for 3 months to give time to the plaintiff to exhibit the contracts.  The plaintiff was exempted from Court Fees.

   The plaintiff has asked the respondent to appoint an arbitrator to decide the question of the plaintiff's claim, but the Government refused.


The Palestine Bulletin, 30 June 1931


Haifa, Monday. - Khail Ibrahim was tried by the District Court on the charge of keeping his sister, Suraya, in iron chains for a week.  She stated in Court that he hoped in this way to force her to return to her husband whom she had left.  Counsel for the defence argued that Suraya was weak-minded and also a woman of bad character.

  Khalil Ibrahim was ordered by the Court to deposit L.P. 10 for three months as a guarantee of his good behaviour.

An Advocate Criticised.

   In giving judgment, Mr. Justice de Freitas said that the claim put forward by Counsel for the defence that the woman [was] of bad character was quite without foundation.  Local advocates, said the learned judger, sometimes make use of this method of making false allegations.  They do not assist the court at all.


The Palestine Bulletin, 17 July 1931


   An important decision was given by the court (Sherwell J. and Valero J.) yesterday whereby it was decided that if a defendant fail with one defence he cannot afterwards bring forward a contradictory defence.

   Dr. Buxbaum's clients, Messrs. Vester and Amdursky, were claiming on a promissory note the sum of L. 1,020 against Aouni Bey's client, Saliba Ibrahim Saud.  The defendant denied that the signature on the note was his.  Plaintiffs proved to the Court that the signature was that of the defendant.  The defendant, through his counsel, then attempted to set up other defences.  He was stopped by the court.


The Palestine Bulletin, 2 August 1931


   Recently we reported the action in which Mr. Tannenbaum recovered L.P. 15,000 from the seven heirs of Abdullah Eff. Shedid.  Certain of the heirs decided to ask leave to appeal to the Privy Council against the judgment.  The Court granted leave to appeal to take the matter up with the Privy Council.

   On Thursday these latter petitioned the Court for leave.  Abcarius Bey and Mr. Eliash, for Mr. Tannenbaum, opposed the granting of leave on the ground that the time during which the partition should have been lodged had already elapsed.

   The Court upheld the objection and three of the seven heirs will, accordingly, not be able to take their case to the Privy Council and judgment can now be executed against them.


The Palestine Bulletin, 24 September 1931



(From Our Correspondent.)

Haifa, Wednesday. - No less than 180 Arabs are alleged to be interested in a land case involving the purchase by Hedera Jews of a 5000 dunam tract on the Ghor el Vasa.

   The case had come up before the Land Settlement officer, Mr. Lowick, in June, when he decided that the area in question was in the Tulkarem, and not the Hedera district.  To-day the appeal against his decision wad to have been heard in the District Court composed of Mr. de Freitas and Aziz Eff. Daoudi.

   The Court spent several hours in trying to ascertain if all the Arabs said to have a claim had been served notice of the appeal.  The case was adjourned until November 17 on the ground that they were not all in Court.

   Each side is represented by four advocates.


Right Of Appeal To Privy Council.

   An appeal involving a L. 13,900 land claim was yesterday heard and dismissed by the Supreme Court.

   The Supreme Court refused leave of appeal to the Privy Council, lodged by some of the heirs of Comte Shedid against the judgment of the Court of Appeal in favour of Mr. Tannenbaum, of Haifa, in a land transaction.

   Some weeks ago, Abdullah Shedid had filed an application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council on behalf of all their heirs.  The Supreme Court then decided that he was not entitled to appeal for all the heirs.  Those who were not then represented by Shedid now brought the application, which the Court dismissed on the ground that the time for leave to appeal had already passed.


The Palestine Bulletin, 7 October 1931



   The sentence of 7 years imprisonment imposed by the District Court of Nablus on Suriah Abdul Halim, aged 18, found guilty of the murder of her 18 months old child, was yesterday confirmed by the Court of Appeal, which decided to hear medical evidence regarding the state of the prisoner's mind.

   Faiz Haddad, Counsel for the accused, submitted that the District Court had not proved the case against the woman, whose story was that the child died as the result of being beaten by her husband.

   On behalf of the Attorney General, it was stated by Mr. Fawzi Ghussein that one of the witnesses for the prosecution had seen the mother and child together, the latter apparently quite healthy, and heard the prisoner say, "To-night the child dies."  The witness later found that child with a wound in the stomach and when asked what happened, the mother laughed.


The Palestine Bulletin, 28 October 1931


   We are informed that Mr. Hassan Sidki Dajani intends bringing an action against the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Treasury in connection with the non-payment of monies due to him from a certain Waqf as the heir of the recipient of certain funds under a firman granted by a Turkish Sultan.

   According to Mr. Dajani, this money has been paid to his family by the Turkish Government for about 250 years and continued to be paid by the British Government through the Waqf until three years ago.  Mr. Dajani does not suggest that the Waqf is no longer receiving the money from the Treasury, maintaining only that it is not being paid him.  He states that he has obtained the permission of the government to bring a case against the Mufti and to cite the Treasury as a third party in the action.


Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School